Negotiations to remove customs and excise tariffs on green goods, including solar cells and modules, will not solve existing anti-dumping actions, a US lobby group has warned.

The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) welcomed the start of talks earlier this week on the Environmental Goods Trade Agreement that will remove barriers on an estimate US$1 trillion of annual trade.

Later this month, the US Department of Commerce will give its preliminary verdict in an anti-dumping case brought against Chinese modules with components manufactured outside China. The preliminary anti-subsidy findings were delivered in June.

“While we would welcome a broad trade agreement on environmental goods, it does not address the current countervailing duty and anti-dumping solar trade cases at the department of commerce,” said CASE president Jigar Shah.

“Policymakers must not lose sight of the immediate harm to the American solar industry caused by new preliminary countervailing duties, which are raising module prices by 14%, jeopardising projects across the country and slowing job growth. For the more than 145,000 US solar workers, it remains critical that the Obama administration engage on this issue and convene negotiations toward a resolution acceptable to all sectors of the thriving US solar industry.”

The initial scope of the talks does not extend to punitive anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties. Peter C. Brun, managing director of the Alliance of the Sustainable Energy Trade Initiative (SETI Alliance), told PV Tech that could change in the future.

“A successful outcome of the goods negotiations could potentially help lower the current tension on the strong use of trade remedies – but only indirectly. However many of the 14 countries see the tariff negotiations as a first stage – with other areas to possibly come such as services, government procurement and trade remedies,” Brun said.

“Negotiation like this has to start somewhere – and it is the tariffs area currently. But if successfully concluded this could open up more areas to be covered in a second stage of negotiations,” he added.